Saturday, August 17, 2019

Summer Painting Retreat Report

Perched 14x11 Oil - Available

From the trail, edged with beach rose and meadowsweet, I enjoyed a broad vista of miles of ocean, dappled with sun diamonds.  The swells broke so  gently against the dark rocks that they created just a whisper of white foam.  Although my thirteen painters had strung themselves out over several hundred yards, all the way from the candy-striped West Quoddy lighthouse to the dizzyingly-tall cliffs of Gulliver's Hole, I didn't mind the walk as I visited each of them in turn. 

This was my second time offering the Lubec painting retreat, with participants coming from—it's a long list—Quebec, Vermont, New Jersey, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania and, yes, even Maine.

Base camp for our forays into the field was the beautifully-renovated and well-appointed West Quoddy Station, a restored US Coast Guard campus.  Perched right at the water's edge on Quoddy Head, a narrow arm of land thrust out into the cold waters of the Grand Manan Channel, it offered us views of Campobello Island and the Lubec Channel.  What's more, because it is only a half-mile from Quoddy Head State Park, it gave us quick access to the West Quoddy Lighthouse, an historic icon and the park's jewel.  From the lighthouse, trails led us to cliffs with views of Grand Manan Island and the Wolf Islands, and when the tide was right, crashing waves cascaded over knife-sharp rocks at the base of the cliffs, kicking spray high into the air.

During the week, we painted not just at Quoddy Head but also in the fishing village of Lubec.  Although the sardine industry is long-gone, some of the historic structures of that time—a smokehouse, skinning shed and others—remain.  Fishing boats, moored in the harbor but swinging with the tides and wind, challenged us, and views of Pope's Folly, Treat Island and Dudley Island gave us more stable subjects to paint.  We also traveled across the border to Campobello Island in Canada, where we drove dusty carriage roads to spectacular views within the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park.  A group dinner on the island with a view of the sunset and a scallop dragger toiling in the bay deepened our friendships as fellow artists.

Each morning during our week, I moderated a critique session—a show-and-tell—in which we talked about the previous day's work, painting by painting. This is always one of the most valuable and anticipated events during my retreats.  Although it's important to enjoy a relaxing week of painting, feedback from others helps us to gain an understanding of where we might go next in our craft.  This understanding will help us in our next period of artistic growth, which will happen some time after we have checked out of our hotel rooms, headed home and returned to our own studios.  I encourage retreat participants to add observations to my own, and I always learn something, as well.

I have already scheduled another painting retreat for next year.  The dates are August 9-14, 2020.  I do give preference to past students for the workshop.  If you haven't taken one with me yet but are interested in the retreat, I encourage you to take a workshop with me so you can join me in this adventure.  Please visit, or my main web site,, for more information.

In the meantime, I offer a few photos and images of some of my paintings from the week.

August Light 9x12 - Available

Swell 9x12 Oil - Available

View to Ragged Point 9x12 Pastel - Available

View to Campobello 9x12 Oil - Available

What's a painting day without Gamblin Artists Colors?

Yes, this is me - photo by Trina Stephenson

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